Just when it seemed the Roberto Luongo trade rumors were fading, Vancouver anuck Canucks GM Mike Gillis revived them by suggesting a deal might be close.
During an interview with Cam Cole of Vancouver Sun, Gillis claimed he had “a potential deal in place with one team” but had to wait while that club did something with another player on their roster, adding “it’s not who anybody thinks it is.”
Gillis’ cryptic comments has sparked a guessing game over the identity of the mystery club, as well as the player it has to deal with first.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks have been linked to Luongo in the rumor mill since last summer.
Of the three, the Maple Leafs are still considered the frontrunners, but after a management change, they appear content for now to stick with their young tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. If the Leafs make a pitch for Luongo, they might have to move Reimer or Scrivens in the deal or a separate trade.
Luongo’s preference would be to return to the Florida Panthers. Maybe they’re trying to move one of their goalies (Jose Theodore or Scott Clemmensen) to make room for a ‘Bobby Lou’ homecoming?
Given the rivalry between the Canucks and Blackhawks, talk of Luongo heading to the Windy City was greeted with skepticism last summer by the Chicago media. It’s been suggested they could make a pitch if their tandem of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery struggles early, but so far there’s little indication that could happen.
Another possible suitor is the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe they are trying to move Nikolai Khabibulin to make room for Luongo?
It was recently reported the Philadelphia Flyers were very interested in the 33-year-old goaltender. Maybe they’re trying to find a way to move Ilya Bryzgalov and his big contract? Bryzgalov hasn’t played badly in the Flyers’ current three-game losing streak, but remains a target of fan criticism.
Then again, maybe Gillis wasn’t referring to the aforementioned teams, but another which might be disenchanted early with its goaltending.
The San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators have been bandied about by rumor bloggers. Anyone watching the recent play of the Sharks’ Antti Niemi and the Senators’ Craig Anderson, however, would reject those teams as potential destinations for Luongo. The Capitals’ young tandem of Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth struggled in their club’s recent two-game losing skid, but that doesn’t mean management wants to shake things up right now.
Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski wondered if Gillis was referring to a team dealing with an unsigned player. Defenseman P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, center Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars and center Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche have yet to agree to terms with their respective clubs.
Given the fact the three clubs already have established starting goaltenders, Wyshynski doesn’t put much stock into that theory.
Gillis’ comments could also be an attempt to rekindle interest in Luongo in hopes of receiving better offers.
He indicated he’s had “lots of proposals” with “good pieces that can help us,” but they also came with a throw-in player carrying “excess salary” who doesn’t suit the Canucks needs.
Gillis stressed he’s not going to be rushed into moving Luongo, but is content to see how things play out over the opening month of the season. He also praised the goaltender for his professionalism and work ethic during this difficult situation.
It might take weeks or months for Luongo to be dealt, but Gillis’ comments revived the guessing game over where the goaltender could eventually land.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.